As many of you have recently witnessed here at Da’ Reef there has been a great disrespect of water safety by a large number of power craft users.
This unsafe operation has prompted many calls to the Coast Guard and Niagara Regional Police water patrols requesting increased enforcement of laws/regulations in our corner of Lake Erie.
I have it on good authority that the patrols will be in the area on this coming weekend so let’s all be safe, aware and set a good example of what watermen and women should be.
As a reminder of what is necessary I have done some research and this is what I found….
Transport Canada, like the United States Coast Guard, classifies Stand Up Paddleboards as human powered vessels when they are being used for navigation. When being used within the surf zone for surfing activities these requirements are not in force. When undertaking a trip or circuit such as a group crossing or solo outing, this is considered navigation.
As human powered vessels, Stand Up Paddleboards are subject to all carriage requirements, including lifejackets. There must be one Canadian approved lifejacket or personal floatation device available on board and available for immediate use. There are many PFD options available for ease of use, such as waist-pack inflatables (a popular choice among competitive rowers, who are also short on space and require a broad range of movement) or low profile paddling vests.
While we have received many requests for the consideration of a leash in lieu of a PFD, Transport Canada does not recognize the leash/paddleboard combination as a floatation device.
If everyone on board is wearing a lifejacket or a PFD of appropriate size, you are only required to carry .1) a sound-signaling device; and .2) a watertight flashlight if the boat is used after sunset or before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.
Transport Canada supports leash use, but not as an alternative to a lifejacket or personal floatation device.
What does all that mean for you?
Wear or carry a PFD with you when you are heading out for a paddle, safety 1st. It is just common sense. A sound signaling device is also recommended.
Wear your leash, this prevents you from being separated from the board should you fall. Your board is the thing with the most float available should an emergency arise.
The PFD guidelines apply for our friends on kayaks, canoes, and other paddle craft as well as sailors, wind surfers and kiters.
Ultimately the decision to wear a PFD is your choice, choose wisely.
Let’s all avoid hefty fines and keep the PFDs with us and have a safe summer out at Da’Reef.
Below are some links for inflatable waist pack PFDs.
Minimum requirements for all other craft are:
a PFD for all aboard, a sound signaling device, throw-able line,and a paddle.
Please refer to the Transport Canada link above if you are unsure about anything.